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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Moment of the Week - 135: Happy Easter!

Well, it started off ominous. An accidental headbutt from Dulce that was meant as a hug certainly woke my husband up with a bang. Then Lilly decided to tantrum over finding the eggs. She wanted to take a bath first. What is my life? But we straightened it out (and I gave the golden egg to Dulce for not being a total turd, and also because I'm cruel) but then, miracle of miracles, they worked it out!

Dulce decided that since she'd found the egg, Lilly could eat the candy inside it. Great solution! They're coming along nicely, eh?

Here are some pictures of our laid-back Easter.

Happy Easter!


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Preschool Pointers - 31: Playdates and Parties


Where you normally have one (or for us lucky ones, two) four year olds to keep busy, somehow you convinced yourself that having a group playdate would be a grand idea. After you're done crying in your room, you still have to entertain them.


Whatever you do, do not ask them what they want to do. Even one four year old can't figure that out. Put eight together and there is no way anyone is coming out alive. On the other hand, do not  have a plan. Seriously. You've got to be able to go with the flow, make decisions on the fly, and gauge the situations as they come up to make sure everyone stays happy. Or at least relatively calm.

So, when you've got eight pairs of eyes staring you down, start a game. Remember, grown ups are still cool to kids this age. Grown ups they hardly know but know they can trust are even cooler. They will give you the benefit of the doubt. Lead them in a game. The other day I first did doctor, where I was the triage nurse and each of them lined up to be seen, giving me their pretend ailments, then going to sit on the patient couch. One of them was the doctor, and after each one got seen, she became the next doctor. This way everyone is involved playing not one but two roles. Then you can make one of them the nurse and step out of the game entirely. Do not forget this step. It's the best part.

Another thing I did was restaurant. First I played the waiter and took some kids' orders. I called for a chef and a few of them piled into the "kitchen" to make the food. Then I was a customer and made an order. Then I stepped out.

Just let them play and step in when shit gets rowdy, then step back out. You can have a few activities, that's a good thing. Just don't plan them in cement at certain times for certain lengths. Be ready for change.

And breathe. You did a good thing. Maybe another parent will return the favor someday.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday in Your Family - Guest Post

Kate Allen, who blogs at Life, Love, Liturgy and at CornDog Mama, has agreed to talk about Good Friday and its implications to all, religious and not. She's amazing, and if you have any theological qualms or questions, I would point you to her blogs. A very intelligent lady.


In the past couple of weeks I've seen moms post about a holiday dilemma: what do I do with my kids on Easter if I'm not religious?  Do I impose my non-religiosity on them?  Or do I fake religiosity and offer them religious concepts I don't believe in so they can experience religiosity for themselves?

I'm a religious mom, but I face a similar problem.  What do I do with my almost two-and-a-half-year-old today, Good Friday, which is one of the most important days of the Christian year?  It's a day that means a great deal to me at age thirty, but what can a two-year-old get out of a Good Friday service aside from the desire to squirm and run and fuss when she's shushed?  Good Friday involves, among other things, lots of kneeling, lots of silence, and lots and lots of words in between the silences.  Oh, and a procession to the cross so that each person can make her or his veneration of it.  Apart from the procession to the cross, there's positively nothing for a two-year-old to do, much less understand.  

So what am I supposed to teach my child about the brutal death of a Jewish man who lived 2,000 years ago--and how?  How am I supposed to explain the concept of sacrifice?  How do I show her that Good Friday is something more than kissing a piece of wood without resorting to a cerebral (and, for her, unintelligible) explanation, on the one hand, or leaving her out altogether, on the other?

Exposing a toddler to religiosity in helpful ways is a difficult business, even for this theologian-by-trade.   The trick I've discovered, thanks to Maria Montessori (the famed Italian educator who was herself Catholic and wrote a great deal about religiosity in small children), is to start where my child is, rather than requiring her to start where I am.  With that in mind, I've come up with a two-fold solution for my toddler.

My first step was to ask myself, "What does Anastasia (my toddler daughter) love?"  Off the top of my head, she loves to sing, she loves to dance, she loves to move, she loves learning new words, she loves a good animated movie or show, she loves to learn new rituals, she loves to eat, and she loves to learn new ways to relate to Mom and Dad. 

So far, so good.  But what do I do with that?

A good friend of mine who has two kiddos of her own asked me if I would want to join her at her church for a special Good Friday service this evening.  Often Good Friday services are held at noon, but this service is to be a Taizé service of light, shadow, and song, with a veneration of the cross as well.  Taizé religious services, named after the French town in which they sprung up, involve singing brief phrases from Christian scripture in memorable melodies and harmonies.  Because the music is simple and repeated over and over, a person of any age can pick it up.  It's a bit like singing Annie's famous "Tomorrow, tomorrow!" (which, by the way, Anastasia loves to do).  Anastasia loves the flicker of candles, and Taizé services are usually lit solely by candlelight--another win.  The procession to the cross will come in the midst of singing and light.  I have the feeling that Anastasia will, with her whole two-year-old self, totally dig this service, not because she'll "get" what it's about, but because the service will honor her two-year-old-self just as she is.

That still leaves the question of how to help her understand the point of it all.  She won't "get" sacrifice from this service.  But sacrifice isn't foreign to her.  To help her, I'm going to turn to one of her other favorite things: Disney and Pixar's latest great film, Brave.  (Note: this is the point at which you shouldn't read on if you want to avoid spoilers.)

Before anything else, let me say that Brave is an outstanding achievement--not just in terms of animation, but in terms of story.  Finally, we have a Disney princess who can stand her own ground--Merida's got talents, interests, creativity, and a mind of her own.  If you've seen Brave, you know that Merida's strengths lead her to butt heads with her mother, the queen, more often than not.  When her mum's plans for her are about to come to fruition, Merida seeks a witch's assistance in changing her mother in order to change her planned fate to something more palatable.  To Merida's dismay, her mum gets turned into a raw-fish-eating, non-talking bear, and Merida has to figure out how to undo the witch's spell before it becomes permanent.

So what's Brave got to do with Good Friday?  Turn to the very last scene, when Merida's well-intentioned dad and all the men of the neighboring clans are trying to kill the bear that is Merida's mum.  They've got the queen-bear bound up and ready to destroy when  Mor'Du, the monstrous bear who has the strength of ten men, shows up.  The men can't hold Mor'Du back, and Mor'Du's attention turns to Merida.  Mor'Du has Merida pinned to the ground and is about to devour her when Merida's bear-mum rises up, defeating the strength of the twenty men who are holding her back with ropes, and roars to Merida's rescue.  This queen, who didn't think it was lady-like or fitting for a princess to have weapons of her own, fights Mor'Du tooth and claw, coming back again and again when Mor'Du has strikes her aside to get at Merida.  In the end, the queen sacrifices her queenly self-expectations to embrace her more important identity--that of mother-bear--to save her daughter's life.

That, friends, is sacrifice my toddler "gets."  Merida's mum sacrifices her queenly inhibitions and propriety to become a roaring bear so that her daughter may live--in a strikingly similar way, according to Christian tradition, Jesus sacrifices his kingly right to honor and esteem and dies the death of a criminal so that others may live.  What I love so much about this parallel is that it means my daughter doesn't have to have background in ancient Jewish customs or social rules or anyone's theology in order to "get" what's happening on Good Friday.  She only has to have a mom whose love for her, in the end, supersedes everything else.  And she does.

M. Kate Allen ~ 


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Crafts, Foods and Fun - Blog Share

Doing Easter last minute? We've got some ideas for you!

First of all, invite over friends! Yes, this is Jackie and her family from Accidentally Mommy!

Now, we're just dyeing eggs because that's all some of us can handle, for real. But there are other crafts you can tackle, perhaps, one could say, of a higher calibre...

Samantha Williams shows us plebs how to make string eggs over on Heart Shaped Leaves.

A complete, step-by-step how-to, made easy for people even just slightly craftier than I am!

Of course, we're busy concentrating on just getting some color on the real eggs.

But that's not the only fun to be had! After the eggs get colored, you get to go on Easter Egg hunts. And sometimes, if you're really freaking cool, you get to do it in the dark...with flashlights, like Tracey from Inside the Mommyvan. Check it out.

Some of us, though...we're still just chugging away. Work, work work.

And the whole time, we're striving not to break those darn eggs. But what would happen if you let your kids stand on the eggs? Literally walking on eggshells. Alex Nguyen over at Alex Nguyen Portraits found out. And you won't believe your eyes!

Not even a joke, guys, not even a joke.

Of course...we aren't so lucky.

Good thing I'm hungry! (And super duper attractive!)

Now, you might not be into hard-boiled-egg-that-just-fell-on-on-the-floor (though I'd question your taste, because obviously delicious).

If you're looking for something a little more impressive, JJ on Low So Paleo has got a brunch idea that's not only appetizing, but also Paleo friendly!

Okay, now that we've eaten...back to work!

Looking good (if blurry. Way to go, photographer.)

So, we're just about ready for Easter Day!

But when the Easter Bunny comes, maybe he feels like filling those plastic jobbies with something other than candy or money this year...if so Joella at Fine and Fair has some great alternatives to put in the Easter basket.

So, there you have it. Easter in an eggshell.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Do You Even Know What Love Is? - Blog Share

Once upon a time, the economy crashed. My husband was laid off, I worked more than an hour away for very little money, and he stayed home alone all day looking for work and taking care of infant twins.

You know this. If not, here. Here it is.

What you don't know is this.

These two are Elise and Andrea Schreier. I hardly knew them. They were friends of a good friend of mine, and all I knew during that tumultuous time when I was barely hanging on for pure exhaustion and depression was that they wanted children desperately. They loved children.

My friend said, hey, you should call them. I bet they'd help you out. And I thought, but I don't have any money to pay them. But they didn't want money. And I thought, but I only know them in passing. In all the times we've seen each other, I've never really reached out in friendship, though we were friendly enough. You know the difference. The 'hey, how are you,' acquaintance versus a friend. They didn't care. These two extremely driven, working, successful women started stopping by my house (out of their way, mind you), to watch my infants and give my husband a break in the evenings once a week. Just because.

Just fucking because.

To this day, my husband refers to them as our lifeline. That seemingly small favor they did us (for an extended period of time, out of the goodness of their hearts), kept him sane. It really did.

And now it's time.

Now it's time to look at what we are doing. At what we are saying. That two women or two men can't get married, don't have the right to access, you know, human rights. The bond these two share is as strong as any hetero marriage I've witnessed, and honestly, stronger than most of those. And that is not even close to all.

While they were sitting for us, Elise and Andrea had applied for Connecticut's foster program. And they waited months and months for approval. And every time they got close, something happened, something delayed it. Then when they were finally approved they got put on a list. It was heartwrenching. It almost brought Elise to tears a few times when we spoke about it. They just wanted a family, and not only a family for themselves, but to create a family for a child less fortunate.

You're telling me that's bad?

Well, don't tell me.

Tell them:

Through the foster program, Elise and Andrea eventually took a little boy. Then his little sister. Then his baby sister. Three siblings staying together because Connecticut allows gay couples to parent children. Because gay couples are fucking people. And you know what else?

They adopted the kids. All three. These three children have a life full of love, laughter and happiness because that is what Elise and Andrea provide. That is who they are. That is what they do.

You're trying to say that because they're in love with each other instead of being in love with a man that they're somehow not qualified to love at all?

You're wrong. Ask those three kids. Ask Elise or Andrea. Ask me.

This truly is a no-brainer. Why are we even talking about this? What is wrong with society that the happy family I know is thought of as wrong, as somehow incapable? Elise and Andrea are ten times the parents I am. And I don't say that to say I'm a bad parent. They're just better.

So if we're going to start judging whether people can get married or not on their ability to parent, I'm just saying, let's ask questions that are relevant to parenting. Because it has nothing to do with whom you love. And people, as human beings, deserve to marry whom they love.


And this is far from the only story.

Anne Theriault tells a similar tale here, about her Uncle Eric.

Polly writes a powerful piece on the hopes and dreams riding on this week's SCOTUS.

Elizabeth Hawksworth explains the intricacies of homophobia that many miss, thinking they are not homophobic, when really, they are. As a bisexual woman, she has first-hand experience being ostracized over whom she chooses to love.

Jackie talks about the word equality like it's a real thing. Like it should be a real thing. In this real life.

Emilie Blanton discussing what is and what isn't slacktivism. Go Red!

And if you are looking for more on Elise and Andrea, this article is a good place to start.

And if you are a blogger and want to show your support for all families everywhere, Families Respecting Families over at is a step in the right direction!

This is a big deal. We need to get on the right side of history. We need to stand together. We need to right this wrong.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tape Painting - Contributor Post

Contributor Samantha has a great idea for revamping your painting activities! To see more creative wonders, make sure you visit Heart Shaped Leaves!


The other day we tried something a little different when we were painting. I had the kids stick regular scotch tape to their canvases and then paint over them. The result was pretty neat, and definitely something we are going to try again. 

Step one: stick tape to canvas. (I originally wanted to use masking tape because I think it might peel off the canvas better, but scotch tape worked just fine. You may want to use masking tape if you are using paper though.)

 Step two: Paint over tape.

Step three: Once the paint is dry, you can then peel the tape off and hang up your masterpiece!




Monday, March 25, 2013

Recipe Monday - Mushroom Salmon

I know this looks like we eat a lot of salmon, but really, I just love the recipes!

1 1/2 lbs fresh salmon
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup dry white wine (or 2 T water with 2 T fresh lemon juice)

Cut salmon into 4 equal portions and put in a lightly oiled baking dish.
Heat butter in skillet and add mushrooms and green onions
Saute over medium heat until mushrooms are tender then stir in flour, parsley and salt
Add milk and bring to a boil
Stir until thick, then add wine or water and lemon juice
Boil one minute, then pour sauce over salmon
 Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

This was a great alternative to our typical salmon recipes.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Five Ways to Survive the Great Indoors - Contributor Post

Here are some amazingly creative games to keep everyone happy and having fun when you're all stuck inside, courtesy of:

Hi, my name is Alex and I'm the mom of two little (and active!) boys ages 4 and 7. You can follow our adventures on my blog, Alex Nguyen Portraits. Like me, you have probably been trapped indoors, either through weather, or through sickness, and found yourself wondering what to do to keep your kids entertained, and to keep your sanity in check. Here are some simple indoor games and activities that have been tested by my kids and given four hearty thumbs up. Bonus points is that some of them require very little parent oversight, and most of them involve things you already have around the house!

What You'll Need:

  • kleenex, or cotton ball, or toilet paper
  • masking tape
  • **optional** post it notes 

  • GAME 1: Kleenex Blowing Down The Hall

    Take a kleenex. lay it on the ground, lay down on your stomach, and start blowing on it. Don't say anything to your kid(s). Pretty soon, your kids will wander over, and start doing it as well. you don't even need a whole piece of kleenex. Sometimes with mine, I will do a cotton ball, or tear a tissue in half or quarters and have them blow their pieces in opposite directions. It's also a great calming game if your kids are fighting.


    GAME 2: Musical Letters

    Using masking tape, tape pieces to the floor and draw letters (or numbers, or shapes - whatever your child can identify) onto the pieces. Play a song, and both of you dance. When the music stops, call out a letter, and have the child find the piece of tape with the letter on it.

    ALTERNATE VERSION: no music, just call out letters and have the child find it. If you have carpet, do it with pieces of paper, and tape the paper to chairs and have the child touch the chair.


    BONUS: if your child is like mine, they will also enjoy taking the masking tape off the floors. This is at least another ten minute activity of fun.


    GAME 3: Alphabet Zoo

    This will require a bit of set up by the parent beforehand. Research animals that start with every letter of the alphabet. Then, pick a spot, and have your child walk, run, jump, hop like the animal. Some ideas are: walk like an anteater, honk like a goose, waddle like a quail. I usually have my boys walk up and down a hallway, alternating animals. They LOVE this game!


    GAME 4: Find Your Body Parts

    This game involves masking tape, or if you have them, post it notes. Give your child a piece of tape, or a post it note. If you have an older child, you can write the body part on it, and give it to them to read. For a younger child, just tell them the body part, and have them stick the post it note on the corresponding body part. Both my kids love this game, and it is also a big hit with the preschooler set.


    GAME 5: Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

    Make a list together from A - Z. Have your child go around the house finding you something that starts with the first letter in the alphabet. BONUS: if you have a camera and a trust worthy child, go ahead and give them the camera to take pictures. You can also give them a checklist. You get some pretty hilarious pictures! My son's alphabet scavenger hunt photo (S was for Snowman): 


    So there you have it. Five different and interesting indoor games that will keep you and your kids from 
    indoor Armageddon. :)


    Wednesday, March 20, 2013

    Modern Sexism

    The problem is subtlety. The problem is "how far we've come." The problem is enlightenment. The problem is a society that congratulates itself on the freedom and equality all face when compared to how it was, when compared to where it is elsewhere. This is the problem.

    The problem is that Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow did not even think about the implications of their words because on the face of things, without 20/20 criticism, there seemed to be no issue with their words. It seemed to be the natural way to frame the story, given that the victim is protected and anonymous.

    The problem is using the advancements we have made as a culture (as in, allowing rape victims to remain anonymous) to facilitate a step backward in the name of ease. CNN focused on the "only" angle of the story they were given, they maybe didn't have the money or the staff to flesh out the story in a way that would have caused an emotional response in the audience without falling to the "these poor boys' lives are ruined" line as the boys break down into tears about their ruined lives. Their own lives that they ruined. Not like the girl's life that they interrupted, that they acted upon. The problem is people like me assume her life was ruined. We don't know her. You have a friend who has a friend who didn't consent to something like that and they don't even think about it. The problem is not being able to talk about these kinds of things when we need to.

    So, where's the line? Where's the line between protecting victims and letting them move on, and calling for the rational and equal treatment of women as a set of human beings? Are they on separate sides of the equation? The problem is, as much as you are reading this blog right now, there are millions of people who watched CNN and since there was nothing blatantly, glaringly wrong with their coverage, some of these people don't really think about it at all. Some process it peripherally, and the words, the scenes, they sink in unconsciously. They permeate, if even for a short time, our view of the matter. The problem is many viewers of that coverage were not outraged, and as such, ingested those messages as legitimate, tossing them aside into the abyss of thousands of other messages received that day. The problem is those messages stick around because of their quietness, of their unobtrusive nature.

    The problem is subtlety.

    In a society which congratulates itself on how far it has come, on how much obvious recognition we (spokenly, if not in action) give these problems, the problem is that a news organization thinks there are any acceptable reasons to sympathize with someone who raped someone else. The problem is deeper even than that. It's that the news organizations didn't think at all.

    The problem is that our resting point as a society still doesn't question these innate assumptions about rape victims, oppressed peoples and women. It doesn't question them because it thinks we've overcome them. And if you're above something, you don't have to think about it anymore. It's not you. It's not what you are doing or what you think. Only it is.

    The problem is we think we've solved a problem when we haven't.

    And the polarization that occurs out of that includes people arguing that we should "lighten up," or "enjoy entertainment for what it's worth."

    The problem is the people who say that think they are not affected by the messages. The problem is they are not affected by those messages.

    They are effected by a layering process that starts when we're just old enough to take in our immediate world around us, where dominant ideologies persist, no longer through force, or through blatant acts of coercion but through a more modern, more subtle, more intricate path to our brains.

    The problem is we can never attack this modern sexism because we never think about it. Because we think we're more sophisticated than that. It doesn't apply to us.

    "I can watch a scary movie, mom, it won't scare me. I know better."

    The problem is this isn't a scary fucking movie. This is real life.


    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    The Steubenville Files - Blog Share

    Two young men were convicted and given a year in juvenile hall for "essentially" raping a young woman. One also sentenced to few more years for having nude pictures of her on his phone.

    The press coverage was abominable. Concentrating on the perpetrators, football players who made good grades and until this debacle had their whole happy future in front of them. (I know, right? If only there were something they could have done to prevent this from happening to the. Like, you know, not video taping themselves laughing about peeing on an unconscious girl.)

    Pollychromatic has some intense words for the press and for the public in general. This is not "essentially" rape, she says to Candy Crowley. This is specifically rape. And women are not essentially people. They are specifically people.

    Anne, at The Belle Jar, expands on that, saying:

    "I am really tired of people saying "imaging if the Steubenville rape survivor was your sister, or your daughter." There's this idea that men shouldn't rape women because we're all someone's sister, daughter, wife, etc. This is fucking wrong. Mend shouldn't rape women because a) we're people and b) no one should rape anyone. I'm tired of being humanized because I'm, like, related to men."

    Accidentally Mommy is just completely fed up with the whole thing, and urges people to take it upon themselves to change the rape culture in which we live.

    My side of this? It's coming. Along with a blog from another fantastic blogger in which she speaks truthfully to her sons about what exactly is going on here. Stay tuned, and make sure to check our heated topics section regularly for incredible stories about incredibly stupid, enraging current events.


    Monday, March 18, 2013

    Recipe Monday - Fruit Popsicles

    Fruit on a stick. Fruit popsicles. An amazing and easy snack for kids!

    For peach popsicles, slice fresh peaches, stick them on toothpicks, and dip them in any flavor yogurt you want. Put them in the freezer for a few hours and you're good to go!

    For banana bites, slice up fresh bananas and stick them on toothpicks. Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and dip the bananas in, then dip in crushed peanuts or rice crispies. You can freeze these or eat them at room temperature.



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